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All zero rating services are terrible – A look at T-Mobile’s plans and parallels in India

  This week, the Wall Street Journal reported that YouTube has taken serious objections to T-Mobile's zero rating platform Binge On for videos. T-Mobile, a mobile operator in the US, had been reducing video quality on YouTube to 480p in order to reduce data usage on its networks. "Reducing data charges can be good for users, but it doesn’t justify throttling all video services, especially without explicit user consent,” a YouTube spokesperson said in the Wall Street Journal. Last month, T-Mobile introduced its zero rating platform for video sites as they use a lot of T-Mobile's bandwidth. Netflix, Hulu and HBO signed on the platform where these sites could stream without any data caps or throttling. YouTube chose not to be part of the programme. The United States Federal Communications Commission (FCC) met with officials from T-Mobile as part of its inquiry into net neutrality and is also looking at similar practices by Comcast and AT&T. What is interesting is that the Internet Association, which counts Facebook, Google, Amazon and Yahoo among others as members, is also critical of throttling on Binge On and has issued a statement against the practice. Reducing data charges for entire classes of applications can be legitimate and benefit consumers, so long as clear notice and choice is provided to service providers and consumers. However, a reasonably designed zero-rating program does not include the throttling of traffic for services or consumers that do not participate. Parallels in India It is ironic that Facebook is part of an…

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